Russell Cook, LVPA paranormal investigator, passed away exactly one year from this date, while on an investigation, out in the Arizona mountains, near the town of Payson. He was just 38.
Today, the LVPA family remembers their friend and fellow investigator.
Russell Cook joined LVPA in July of 2011, along with his fiancée, Joy Hansen. Meeting through mutual friends, they both had a penchant for the paranormal.
“Russ was always excited about the paranormal. He was always talking about it and when he obtained evidence, he would spend all of his time analyzing it,” she said.
On his first investigation with LVPA, members immediately recognized Russ as a selfless and non-abrasive person who would eagerly assist in all aspects of the investigation.
“When I first spied him, I thought, oh great, here is another person who probably knows it all. But then, when we talked, I was embarrassed on how wrong I was. He was an open book. Eager to learn. Respectful, friendly and just a pleasure to be around. You don’t meet many people like him in this field,” said a surprised fellow LVPA investigator.
In the paranormal field where ego is typically in the forefront followed by lack of knowledge and experience, Russ was a pleasant surprise.
“Russ wanted to learn as much as he could and was like a kid in a candy store when it came to investigations,” said LVPA founder, Wally Luna.
What attracted Russell to the paranormal is probably what attracts most people, the mystery.
His fiancée told of a paranormal “learning experience” Russ had that may have furthered enticed him into the paranormal.
“He lived across the street from an empty old mansion on a southern plantation, in North Carolina or Virginia, I’m not sure exactly, where people claimed to see lights go on and off in the home, and no one lived there,” Joy stated.
“Well, naturally he was attracted to it like a moth to a bug zapper. While investigating it, he wasn’t finding any activity so he began to provoke and insult whatever might be there. Nothing happened, so he left.”
Once he got home, Russ began to experience all kinds of electrical and plumbing related problems.
“No one could fix it or even figure out what was wrong. So, Russ went back over to the mansion and apologized. The problems stopped after that,” Joy said with a smile.
And like most paranormal junkies, Russ had a dream spot for a paranormal investigation. Goldfield Hotel.
“There were many places we were planning to investigate, but Goldfield Hotel was the one he wanted the most,” Joy said somberly. “We just didn’t get the chance.”
But, it isn’t the thoughts of “investigations that could have been” that cut so deep.
“Russ, got down on one knee last year and proposed. We were planning to be married around March of 2013 in Texas,” Joy heart brokenly announced.
On September 22, 2011, Russ embarked on a trip out to the isolated Arizona mountains with his LVPA peers, in search of evidence of the elusive Mogollon Monster, the Arizona Bigfoot.
“I walked Russ out to the car, kissed him goodbye, told him to be careful and to come back safe to me. He smiled and said he would,” Joy said tearfully.
“I couldn’t help but think that was the last time I was going to see him. I just couldn’t get that out of my head.”
Arriving at 10:00 a.m. the following morning, Russ, and other members of LVPA, unloaded their vehicles, and without much ado, headed off to an area where some fresh footprints were found, perhaps those of the Mogollon Monster.
Within a couple of hours, Russell transcended this plane of existence to the next.
His fellow investigators worked desperately to save him, but it was too late, just too late. Russell had severe undiagnosed heart problems that ultimately snatched him away. Click here to learn more about that day.
Today, Joy tries to go on with her life, never forgetting the love of her life. She copes as best as one could expect, but she does find some solace in knowing he is still around.
“Around 10 p.m. the other day, exactly two years after I met him, I felt his arms wrap around me. I felt like he was just there hugging me. At the same time, my dog lifted his head up and began to whine. When I felt like I wasn’t being hugged anymore, my dog put his head down and went back to sleep.”
But, that isn’t the only experience she has had since Russ passed. Joy says that whenever she has a bad day, she can feel him there trying to comfort her.
“At first when he passed, he was around a lot, but now he is mostly around when I’m having a bad day, just trying to help me out.”
Many of those who crossed paths with Russell would be quick to point out that he was not only a kind soul, respectful and always willing to learn. He cared about you.
Joy explained, “People admired Russ for his passion of life, people and learning. He was the kind of person who would bend over backwards to help you, as long as you didn’t treat him wrong. That’s just who he was.”
LVPA investigator Murad Kassees, remembered, “He was so excited to go to Arizona and hopefully find proof. He told me that he was glad I was going with him because we were good friends. I thought that was really nice of him.”
So, Russell Cook, LVPA and the ones who love and miss you, remember and honor you this day, the day when you were stolen from us way too early.
And if there is a message that comes from the early passing of Russell, it is eloquently summed up by a message etched long ago onto the headstone of Jared Covey, Burlington Connecticut’s town founder:
“Stop, look at me as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now so you will be,
Prepare for death & follow me.”
Rest in Peace Russell Cook.